Pride and Prejudice- Review
Chapterhouse Theatre Company
5th September 2010
Pride and Prejudice has been the first Jane Austen play that I have reviewed, and must admit that I was a little bit wary/scared of it. I have always loved the odd period drama when it had been on the television, but coming to review it – live- is another matter.
Charting the story of Mr and Mrs Bennet and their three daughters, whom all are of the marrying kind, all of who make Pound signs to the parents. The parents can’t wait to let their daughters go and a bidding process of emotional toing and froing begins.
Mrs Bennet attends a ball with her daughters Jane and Elizabeth in tow, where the fanciable if not morose Mr Darcy is also present along with his friend Mr Bingley. Careful select dances and presumptions are made, all of which give the viewer an instant insight into the way the play is heading. Confusion reigns down on all of the participants as pecking order is overlooked by pride. Mr Bingley and Jane take an instant liking to each other and wedding bells are almost ringing out, but is the snobbish Darcy up to tricks, is the pride getting to him, it certainly looks like it when Mr Bingley leaves. Suspicions arise from Elizabeth that Mr Darcy is behind the sharp exit.
Mr Wickham a young officer has befriended Elizabeth, but has told her that Mr Darcy hasn’t been very honourable towards him and has mistreated him. Bennets’ cousin Mr Collins also fancies tying the knot and sets his eyes on both Elizabeth and Jane, but when his advances are spurned he marries Elizabeth’s friend Charlotte Lucas and they both move away from the area. On visits to them Elizabeth finds out that Mr Darcy was responsible for Mr Bingley leaving the ball, and the rejection of love towards Jane. Mr Darcy soon reacts by proclaiming his love for Elizabeth, but under the circumstances of his disloyalty towards her family she refuses. His actions to counteract this take a more serious move when he writes a letter to her explaining that he was only trying to protect her against Mr Wickham, who had earlier tried to seduce his sister Georgiana.
Not sure what to do Elizabeth returns from her travels, only to encounter Mr Darcy again on a visit to Derbyshire with her aunt and uncle Mr and Mrs Gardiner, this time however he leaves his hurt behind and is more than happy to interact with Elizabeth, this is shattered by news filtering through that Elizabeth’s younger sister has run away with Mr Wickham. Only a short time later they are found and are forced to wed. Elizabeth finds out that it was Mr Darcy who both found them and also arranged the nuptials. This obviously goes down well with her, and hope is in the air for Mr Darcy. Mr Bingley returns and proposes to Jane, this sets off more emotional tidings and soon Mr Darcy Proposes to Elizabeth.
Set in the wonderful grounds of Alnwick Castle, I cannot imagine a more beautiful location, however this being the last of 47 shows-some magnificent venues have already been visited. I am right up there with Richard Main, the Producer who states “ I am frankly a little jealous of both the actors and the audiences for their chance to see each evening in its own special setting with all the idiosyncrasies that come with them”. With the wind blowing and the air crisp, I take my hat off (well only for a short time) to any actor/actress that can brave the elements for over 2 hours, especially in period dress costume. The audience were mesmerised at every turn of event, and even though they all dashed off to their respected cars and houses for a warm-I am sure they could have quite easily sat through it all again.
With an outdoor event at such a stately venue, you are expected to be treated to a good nights worth of entertainment, I certainly was, and thought the actors and the actresses on the night performed superbly.
Elizabeth played by Hannah Lee, and Jane played by Helen Jenkinson, both set the scenes with authority and gusto. Tim Metcalfe-Wood who superbly played four characters including Mr Bennet, brilliantly acted all of his parts with sincerity. I am looking forward to maybe catching up with some of his own independent work.
I cant imagine with the cast being of such high calibre, that it was such a bind to get them all together and focus on what the public wanted, but the Director Rebecca Gadsby has managed to do it very successfully. A worthy mention to Laura Turner, who has re-wrote this play into a humorous and enlightening tale, I really didn’t think I would be chuckling along to a Jane Austen play but I did, and wish all Classic’s could be like this.
Watching and reviewing Pride and Prejudice wasn’t such a terrible thing, it was a wonderful thing, and cant wait to do it all over again.